Tune: St. Anne
Based on Psalm 90
For years this has been one of my most favorite hymns, the other two being The Church’s One Foundation and Now Thank We All Our God. They are the hymns that I have chosen for my services of ordination and installation as a Pastor and Associate Pastor. My affection for this hymn and psalm are also reflected in its rather frequent inclusion in my pastoral prayers. Listen to the first stanza!
Our God, Our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
Those words are so comforting and reassuring to me! As I consider my life and remember the hardships and trials I have experienced, I remember how God has been there for me providing help in the forms of comfort, courage or strength. While my hardships and trials may pale in comparison to others, they have nevertheless been mine, seemed very difficult to me and yet God has come to my aid. Because I have discovered God to be faithful in the past, I am given hope for the future. Regardless of what difficulties or problems may come my way in the days and years ahead, I can trust God to be with me and to help me then as God has done so in the past.
What contributes to this hope for the future is God’s presence with me now and God’s protection. In the day-to-day struggles of life, which may be described as “the stormy blast,” God proves to be my shelter. So God has been my help, is my shelter and will be my hope. But God is not just our God for the past, the present and the future. Beyond time we will know God’s presence in eternity. Once this life ends, my eternal home will be with God.
Psalm 90 verse 12 does not seem to be addressed by the hymn. There we read: “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (NRSV) We will gain wise hearts as we keep this perspective on life and as we count and make the most of each day, while anticipating our eternal home with God.
Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou our guard while life shall last, and our eternal home. Amen.